We blogged yesterday on the impending trial of WOZA protesters. The following is a statement just released by WOZA detailing the state Prosecutor's decision, this morning, to drop all charges against WOZA memebrs who were arrested for taking part in a peaceful demonstration in Bulawayo in August to protest economic conditions:
"One hundred and fifty-two members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise, (WOZA) including 30 members of Men of Zimbabwe Arise, walked away celebrating this morning after the State, represented by Prosecutor, Mr Manata, withdrew the charges before plea citing lack of evidence to support the case. Magistrate Msipha presided over the case. The members were being charged under Chapter 37 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act –‘participating in a public gathering with the intent to cause public disorder, breach of peace or bigotry’. The prosecutor was heard bearing down on the state witnesses just before the trial, (Law and order officers), for writing ‘useless’ statements, which he said, were too watery and could not be used to pin down WOZA.
The frustrated Law and Order officers were later heard devising future strategies to be employed to stifle future dissent by WOZA members, among which were thorough beatings to cow the members - but another officer replied saying ‘ but these do not run away, they will just sit down and wait for us to stop’.
Advocate Perpetua Dube, a member of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, defended the women. This is the eight court victory for WOZA members in court and the leadership declared it a victory for economic reforms. "By the withdrawing charges against us, we take it that it is a confirmation that Gono has a case to answer. We marched to demand economic reforms not just a slashing of zeroes and we have been vindicated. You cannot criminalize the speaking of the truth. So we say once again to Gideon Gono – if you want to be a hero you must slash more than a zero!
For more information please contact Jenni Williams on 263 91 300 456 or 263 91 898 110 or email firstname.lastname@example.org."